A great running back on a football team can become a major liability for his team. All he has to do is fumble the football. To prevent a back from becoming a fumbler, the coach teaches a 4-point contact rule. The back should hold the ball so that four points of his body are in contact with the ball – his hand, his forearm, his upper arm and his chest. Any missing contact point puts the ball at risk of being fumbled.
When opponents surround the back, the four points are not enough. At the point of engaging the opponents, the back should hold on to the ball with both hands and arms.
To drill this rule, the coach will the player run between two lines of people. Everybody in those lines will be attempting to poke the ball away from the back. If he loses any of his contact points, a fumble becomes a distinct possibility. For those backs who still have trouble, the coach might make them carry a football with them everywhere they go. The coach will repeatedly scream, “Hold on to the ball!” It is that important.
In marriage it is important that we husbands hold fast to our wives. Don’t let go! In the very beginning, God had this to say about the relationship between a husband and a wife;
Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
(Genesis 2:24, ESV)
When speaking of marriage, Jesus (Matt 19:5) and Paul (Eph 5:31) both used this verse to teach the same truth. It is that important. But what does it mean to hold fast?
Like the running back who has a 4-points of contact rule, lets understand holding fast to our wives with our own 4-points. To get these four points, we are going to look at how this term is used in other references.
1. The Covenantal Point
When God established his covenant with the people of Israel, the same term was used as was for Adam in his relationship with Eve.
You shall fear the Lord your God. You shall serve him and hold fast to him, and by his name you shall swear.
(Deuteronomy 10:20, ESV)
Marriage should be viewed as a covenant between husband and wife in God’s presence. It is more than a legal contract recognized by the state. As modern societies attempt to redefine marriage, most attempts are really just about legal contracts.
For the Christian marriage is much more than that. It is a giving of self in God’s presence. Notice the terms in the verse above – fear the Lord, serve him, swear by his name. This covenant involved being and doing. God was holy and had delivered Israel.
2. The Relational Point
In the marriage passages about holding on, a relational point clearly exists. Each time the holding fast is contrasted with a man leaving his father and his mother. What once was the relationship of priority for the boy turned man will be so no longer. His new relationship of priority is the one with his wife.
This does not mean that we have no relationship with our parents. It simply cannot be the most important familial relationship a husband has. Blessed is the man who has a mother who understand this. Nobody wants to find himself in situations like Raymond Barone of Everybody Loves Raymond, squeezed between the demands of mother and wife. If that should arise, the husband must clearly be with his wife.
3. The Sexual Point
When Paul wrote to the Corinthians, he used the same term (hold fast) to speak of the sexual relationship. The ESV translates it differently, but it is the same in the original language.
Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh.”
(1 Corinthians 6:16, ESV)
To be joined sexually is to hold fast. In the Corinthian example, Paul is warning against being sexual with a prostitute. The reasoning is that it is a “one body” union with the prostitute.
Husbands should only have this union with his wife. That is the one to whom he is to hold fast or to be joined together. If this warning is not heeded, the man leaves himself divided. That is never a good thing. The Bible often warns us against being duplicitous or double-minded. Double-bodied is perhaps even worse.
4. The Mystical Point
This “one flesh” union that is given to husband and wife is one of God’s great blessings. It is more than sexual or physical oneness. Who can deny that a joining together of a husband and his wife effects much more than the physical bodies. Giving of oneself to your spouse connects you at the heart and mind levels, too.
When Paul had warned the Corinthians about joining with prostitutes, he reminded them of something almost beyond comprehension.
But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him.
(1 Corinthians 6:17, ESV)
We have an intimate relationship with the Lord that unites us with him. Amazing. This is a little of what the Bible is conveying to us about the union between a husband and wife. There is a connection in marriage that pictures what exists between Christ and the church.
When Paul quoted the Genesis passage to the Ephesians to lay the foundation for marriage, he immediately added these words,
This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
(Ephesians 5:32-33, ESV)
A profound mystery. This refers to the Christ and church dynamic, but there is something similar with the husband and wife connection. Don’t miss out on this.
Hold fast. Don’t let go. Don’t fumble the ball.
***This article was originally posted at GospelHusbands.com.